Why the Nightingale?
Nobody is sure how Koreans discovered that nightingale poop had such unique qualities, but nightingales have long held an important place in many Asian cultures. The Japanese bush warbler is a shy bird rarely seen in seasons other than spring, which is why it's associated with beauty and rebirth as well as springtime flowers. The warbler has been kept as a pet because of its distinctive song, which is also probably why it has been the subject of many poems and songs.
The Origins of Bird Poop Facials
While this may be the first that you've heard of bird poop facials, as we've mentioned already, they've been around for quite a while in Japan. Uguisu no fun is a traditional part of a geisha's beauty regimen. Shops in towns with geisha houses (called hanamachi) sell traditional products catering specifically to them, including their distinctive clothing, shoes, wigs, instruments and cosmetics. Uguisu no fun is just another available product, although that doesn't mean that all geisha use it.
The practice of using nightingale poop didn't actually originate in Japan; it was first introduced to the Japanese by Koreans during the Heian period, which ran from 794 to 1185. This era is considered important for several reasons, including peaks in culture and art. The Koreans used the poop to strip dye from fabric and create beautiful, intricate patterns on clothing. This remained its primary use in Japan until the Edo period, which ran from 1603 to 1868. Although female entertainers existed in Japan prior to this time, the modern geisha is thought to have originated in the 1700s. Kabuki, a style of theatre involving elaborate makeup, also became popular.
Both geisha and Kabuki actors have traditionally worn heavy white makeup. Originally, it was made with ingredients like zinc and lead, which proved to cause serious skin disease and other problems. Then it was discovered that using uguisu no fun completely removed the makeup as well as served to condition and soothe the skin. Although the makeup is no longer made with these ingredients, uguisu no fun had secured its place. Buddhist monks also began using it to clean and polish their bald scalps.
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